Chief Storyteller at Cabin 23 Productions.
Nelson de Witt’s name is also Roberto Coto. As an infant, he was separated from his birth family during El Salvador’s civil war, by death and adoption, and was reunited with them at the age of 16.
He is a jack of all trades that has done everything from business process design to video production to server administration to film photography. He has run, consulted on, and wrote a book about crowdfunding campaigns. he has taught himself everything from Ruby on Rails to narrative story structure.
Nelson is a skilled problem solver who can tackle complex issues and find solutions that combine art with outcomes.
What does diversity mean to you?
To me, diversity not only includes a variety of external attributes, such as upbringing and life experiences, but it also includes a variety of internal attributes, such as viewpoints, and thinking styles.
In third grade I learned that I am dyslexic and growing up I was often told that I had a “learning disability.” While certain tasks will always be hard for me I am hardly disabled.
What many people don’t understand is that dyslexia is less about deficiencies in the brain and more about trade-offs. Dyslexics usually struggle with reading and writing, which contributes to the stigma of them being “disabled.” However, dyslexia also comes with a number of advantages, such as exceptional problem solving and spatial reasoning skills.
To me, it’s two sides of the same coin. Some minds are good at focusing on the little details, while some minds are good at focusing on the big picture. The key is to understand that the most innovative solutions come from embracing both ways of thinking and that neither way is better than the other.
What inspired you to start your current journey?
Ever since I was reunited with my birth family at the age of 16, I knew I would share my story with the world. However, it wasn’t until I had graduated college and was stuck at an uninspired IT job that my journey really began.
One day in 2006, while listening to a podcast about the impact the internet was having on our society, I heard this quote:
“Now anyone with a library card in the US can publish… And for that reason the world has changed.” – Robert Rebholz.
At that moment I realized there was nothing preventing me from sharing my story. The only thing I needed was the courage to do so. A few months later I started a blog where I shared my experiences reuniting with my birth family. The blog eventually led to a documentary film and much of the work I do now.
Who is your role model?
I’m a big fan of Seth Godin. I have been following his work since the very beginning of my entrepreneurial journey. He has helped me understand so much about business and the importance of making art. If aren’t familiar with his work than I highly recommend you check him out!
What is your advice to a young person starting their career or entrepreneurial journey?
Don’t be afraid to fail. Society teaches us to avoid failure at all costs. That in order to succeed we must know the answer before we start. However, in the world of entrepreneurship, the answers are rarely ever known ahead of time. Just like learning to walk or learning to ride a bike we must fall and pick ourselves back.
The trick is to not take failure personally, but to see it for what it is, a learning experience. Of course, this is easier said than done, but if you can treat your projects like experiments instead of referendums on you as a person, than failure loses its power over you. The truth is, you’re not supposed to know the right answer, no one is, because the world is constantly changing and what worked yesterday may not work today.